What motivated you to get into this career? Growing up in Thailand gives someone an appreciation for food. Like in any culture that is food-centered, you learn from an early age to appreciate the composition of various dishes. As a kid, I always wanted to cook and get better at it. Back then I never thought of it as a career; however, it was a passion that I wanted to pursue. Upon moving to Canada, I gained a new understanding of trades and the status associated with having one. Realizing that being a cook is a valuable career goal was exciting news. I could take my passion to a new level. 

Was there someone who got you excited about this path? As my interest was developed in my past, there are also key individuals that helped fuel my interests. In particular, my grandmother. She was a skilful cook who supplied the family with a plethora of dishes on the daily. As her food brought joy to the family, I aspire to bring joy to others through cooking.

Was there a class in secondary school that helped you be more proficient at the work you do now? My secondary school functioned differently from the schools in Canada. Instead of covering a broad range of subjects, you specialize in an area. My focus at the time was in accounting which was a respectable profession in Thailand at that time. Unfortunately, none of my courses in secondary were relatable to cooking. All my help was acquired from elsewhere.

What was it like to go to post-secondary school and work at the same time? It has been a simple transition to go from work to school and back again. I lucked out and was offered an intern position at Yukon College, working in the same kitchen that I went to school. This was highly advantageous for me, as I did not have to overcome a new learning curve. (I) was already familiar with the system. I found this allowed me to focus more on what I was doing at work. 

What is the best part of being in your trade? The best part of my trade is the dynamics involved. Although it may apply to other trades as well, I find that cooking has so many opportunities. There is so much variation that no two days need to be the same if I choose. Endless combinations of ingredients and processes make each meal an exciting adventure in itself. There is so much history and culture involved that I could only just scratch the surface in a lifetime of cooking. I find cooking goes hand in hand with another passion of mine, travel. The more I explore the world and keep my mindset in my trade, the more I will learn about it.

What does a regular day look like for you in your job? During a typical day I start early and finish early relative to other professions. In the morning I focus on prep for breakfast. Meals must be ready for students upon the opening of the cafeteria in the morning. Following this is prep for lunch period. These meals are also served in the cafeteria. I sometimes spend time organizing/developing menu items for the cafeteria or the bistro, which is an in-house restaurant. When the opportunity arises, I will help the cook students with tasks and through advisement.

If you met someone who was looking at getting a job in the trades, what piece of advice would you give them? I would tell them that the most important aspect when picking a trade is to get involved in the one you are most passionate about. Don’t just do what your friends are doing for the sake of socializing. If you want to succeed, you need to care about what you are doing. If you care about what you are doing, you will be driven to learn more. The more you learn, the more you will care. It is a positive feedback loop that will guarantee success and happiness.

How has your trade made your life better? My trade has made my life better in multiple ways. Firstly, it gives me the opportunity to follow my passion on a daily basis. What better way to live than to be required by your employer to do the things you love? Another aspect is my development of skill and ability over time. As I learn more at work, I am able to bring those skills home and share them with friends and family. I also have noticed a significant increase in my self-confidence. As time goes on, I am more confident in my abilities and make an effort to show others my talents. Finally, this trade has offered me financial stability. I am very pleased knowing I can support myself through dedication to my trade. My trade takes care of me.

What is the most interesting thing you have worked on? The most interesting event I took part in was the Skills Canada competition. In 2018, I competed in the National Skills Competition for cooking. This was a superb opportunity to meet individuals with similar interests. I learned a lot about myself and my drive to become a Red Seal (chef) has only grown since. It was a challenging event for me to train for and I appreciated every moment. A big thank you to my instructor, Ryan C., and my friend and skills competition alumni, Terresa K., without whom I would not have achieved as much as I did.

Meet: Bell Laosomboon

Age: 27

Trade: Cook

Current workplace: Yukon College

Meet Cassandra the carpenter